May 8, 2013

A new look at Barossa Shiraz

This week I found myself consoling a friend of mine about their continued love of bold Barossan Shiraz in the face of a changing tide – particularly stateside where he lives.  I have long been an advocate for standing strong for your wine choices, they are your own and no one should take them away. Of course, you should never stop trying something new and widely sampling different wines.

The good news for my friend is that there are some young guns striving to make us take a fresh look at Barossa Valley shiraz. Get set to see wines more elegantly structured and purer in fruit coming from producers such as the Kalleske family, Kym Teusner and St Hallett’s, Toby Barlow. Each with a different story to tell but they come together in creating a fresher future for Barossa.

Some critics crowned overripe wines with alcohols of 15.5%+ that seem dried out, characterised by hard oak a bit like sucking on a plank.  Partly due to the drought years past, partly due to the trend that bigger was better. Just like Australian Chardonnay, there has been changes afoot.  Expect more moderate percentages (around 14.5%) as winemakers pick more for flavour than complete ripeness, a structural tightening towards fuller but not overblown bodied wines and while the oak is still rich, it is in balance with the fruit.

The Kalleske story is one of family and a deep respect for their vineyards with their biodynamic approach. While the family have always grown grapes, it is only since 2004 that the talented brothers Troy and Tony have released wine under the Kalleske name. The earliest vines on the estate were planted in 1875, however the average age of the vines is around half a century old & well deserved of the term ‘old vine’.

Toby Barlow has brought his cooler climate touch to the Barossa and to the large beverage corporate Lion’s, St Hallett brand. By producing wines with brightness, style and poise giving the team a chance to create a modern Barossan. Kym Teusner is all about capturing the boldness of the Barossa while targeting vibrancy and elegance. To do this, he and viticulturalist Michael Page source their grapes from old, named vineyards around the Barossa Valley. If you are a stickler for transparency, visit the website and you will be able to see exactly where their grapes come from and into which wines. Neat!

So, if you love the bold richness that is Australian shiraz – and from the Barossa Valley in particular – here are some great wines to reawaken your palate. And you never know, your doubting friends may just thank you for reintroducing them back to Aussie Shiraz.

St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2011 – Sweet ripe fruit flows from lips to the finish, Faith’s generous in intensity but still elegantly clad in a medium body with some lean muscular tannins. A good wine for most occasions but science has proven that man cannot live on faith alone so perhaps be inspired to try it with a lamb and date tagine. ($17)

Teusner The Independent Shiraz Mataro 2011 – Black pepper spice livens up the raspberry and blueberry fruit and underpins the sweet floral aromas. A curvaceous blend with shape and form, remaining medium bodied and textured with an expressive finish.  ($25)

Kalleske Moppa Shiraz 2011 –  The Moppa is pretty with perfumed violets, densely packed blueberries and pepper on the nose. Mineral and herbs add their flair to the palate and very fine tannins finish firm.  A wine styled with purity at heart, and I don’t mean just the biodynamic philosophy.    ($28)

Kalleske Greenock Shiraz 2011 –  This shiraz is vivid and expressive with cloves, blackberry and pepper with a mineral bent. Softly fruited with supple tannins and a plush velvety mouthful of fruit that lingers. ($38)

Teusner Albert Shiraz 2011 – Sometimes a bad year can produce great things. Due to a poor 2011 vintage, this vintage has a parcel of grapes declassified from the Righteous vineyard due to the less-than-righteous 2011 vintage conditions. A wine rich with pepper, plums and cloves. Simply voluptuous.  ($55)

Note: Teusner & Kalleske are not yet available in the USA but keep a watchful eye out as I am sure that they will be destined for your shores soon.

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